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Best Practice Update

hand holding a mobile phone with social media icons on it. Litus Digital logo and Data Protection Education logo. Guardians of Privacy: Navigating social media in educational settings in blue text.  A series of articles about social media, privacy and schools in black text.  Coloured pencils at the bottom

Guardians of Privacy: 12. Social Media and Going Viral

This article is one of a series written by Data Protection Education in collaboration with Litus Digital, a social media management company.  The articles came about from questions asked by Data Protection Education's customers, our own experience of working in education,  as school governors, parents and data protection professionals.  The articles raise questions about how social media can be used as safely as possible in a school environment,  security considerations, the law and protecting children.  It is not possible to cover every aspect of social media, but the articles aim to provide guidance, raise privacy questions and provide some support for safe posting.

When a post goes viral it means that it has become so popular that it now spreads exponentially across the internet and multiple social media platforms.

Sometimes a post may unintentionally go viral and cause ‘harm’ to the data subject.

Privacy rights are protected by the UK Human Rights Act 1998, which aims to prevent other people from interfering with your life.  It stipulates that personal information about you should not be shared publicly without your permission.  Other personal data is protected under the Data Protection Act 2018.

Since 2015, the law has specifically prohibited the sharing of private, sexual photos or videos of another person without their consent. Since 2021, this also includes threatening to disclose intimate sexual images. Upskirting – taking a picture under another person’s clothing without their knowledge – was criminalised in 2019.

The NCSC provides guidance about Sextortion scams: how to protect yourself.
Advice about how to get support if someone has shared revealing or intimate photos or videos of you:

What to do if you've been targeted

  • Don’t panic, help and support is available.
  • Don’t pay.
  • Save the evidence: Take screenshots. Save messages and images. Collect URL links to where the information is being shared online.
  • Report it to social media companies if communication happened on these channels. For example, Facebook or Instagram.
  • Report it to your internet service provider.
  • Block all communication with the person targeting you.

Most social media sites have rules against sharing intimate content without consent. You should be able to get the material removed.

Report it

We understand that it might be difficult to report this type of crime to us. Our officers are here to listen and to support you in any way we can.

You can report intimate image abuse to us:

  • online
  • by calling 101
  • if you have a hearing or speech impairment, use our textphone service on 18001 101.

Sharing intimate images without consent is a crime.

This information is from the Met Police website and they provide further help and advice: 
Met Police: Sextortion

Government crackdown on image-based abuse.

    Guardians of Privacy: Social Media Articles